Niall Norton Issue: EMEA 2015
Article no.: 12
Topic: The move to Multi-Play: The need for smarter customer engagement
Author: Niall Norton
Title: CEO
Organisation: Openet
PDF size: 212KB

About author

Niall Norton, CEO, Openet

Niall Norton joined us in March 2004 as CFO before becoming CEO in 2006. A winner of the European Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011, Niall has steered Openet to become the one of the world’s leading BSS providers and the largest software company in Ireland.

Prior to joining us, he served as CFO of O2 Ireland from 2001 to 2004.

Niall holds a degree in Commerce from University College Dublin and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.

Article abstract

The ability to know when to engage with a specific customer to make a specific offer requires the use of a combination of historical business intelligence and real- time streaming analytics. Looking at an example, a customer could be a heavy Facebook user who drops off usage around day 24 of their billing cycle every month. This is probably due to concerns about overage charges and not using up their quota. So the opportunity is there for the operator to send a personalized offer to sell a 500MB Facebook only pass valid for seven days for say, US$5, when the customer accesses Facebook on day 23 of the billing cycle. Or if an operator sees that someone spends a lot of time streaming music and has a high churn propensity score, why not offer then one month free Spotify Premium (assuming the operator has a partnership with Spotify), the next time they start listening to a streaming music service. 

Full Article

With an increasing number of telecoms operators moving into the new world of multi-play services they should be in a perfect position to increase profits by tapping into their existing customer base and upselling new services. Sounds simple. And perhaps in the old days it was. But not any longer, and if operators are going to look at investing in multi-play offers then there’s one major asset that they need to better manage.

Customer base – The most important asset an operator has

Operators have many assets that they can leverage and build upon in order to grow new revenue streams. These include monetization systems and processes, service creation systems as well as the network. It can be argued that the one main asset an operator has is its customer base. One important aspect is that the operators have a regular payment pattern with their customers. Post-paid customers get a bill every month. Most pre-paid customers top up their balance more frequently than this. The ability to build on this regular payment process is key to ensuring that new business opportunities are monetized.

With this basic foundation operators can start better engaging with their customers. However, engagement needs to be relevant and to be so it must be personalized and timely. By building on this engagement and becoming increasingly relevant to each customer, operators have the starting point on which to transform their business and not allow data to become a commodity.

Delivering relevant and personalized customer engagement: Four key pillars

Relevant and personalized customer engagement needs to be built on four key pillars. These are:
Visibility and Intelligence Interaction and Personalization Service Development and Delivery Monetization

1. Visibility and intelligence

Business intelligence has two main components—historical intelligence and real-time intelligence. Historical intelligence is useful for building the profile of a customer. These profiles can include the following information on customers: what their favorite services are, what sites they visit, what their usage patterns are, what they spend, their lifetime value, their propensity to churn score, any recent calls to customer care, etc. This data is constantly updated and is normally stored in a data warehouse.

Then there is intelligence on what a customer is doing here and now. This is real-time data that an operator analyzes in real-time (streaming analytics). Operators already collect customer usage data in real-time (for charging purposes), and now they are looking to carry out streaming analytics on this data. They then combine this with historical data on the customer to know what offer/communication is most relevant to a particular customer. Examples of data collected from streaming analytics can include the following real-time data: location, number called, network experience (e.g. jitter, delay, etc.), and web sites being accessed. Add historical data on preferences, experience, NPS, value, and so on.

2. Interaction and personalization

People hate getting spammed with irrelevant emails that clog up their inbox and waste their time. Conversely people actually like getting personalized, relevant offers. According to research by Teradata and Celebrus Research in 2015, 63% of consumers across every age group like to receive personalized offers. This finding is backed up by the Accenture Personalization Survey 2015, which found that nearly 60% of consumers want real-time promotions and offers.

Operators have the established channels to interact with customers and they’ve been using these for several years to provide real-time notifications. Regulatory compliance and billing processes require customers to get alerts when they near their data quota and when roaming. However many operators are using these alerts to upsell data blocks (e.g. 500MB for US$5, valid until start of new billing period) and fixed price data roaming service passes. The obvious extension is to take this one step further and start upselling real-time contextual aware offers.

The ability to know when to engage with a specific customer to make a specific offer requires the use of a combination of historical business intelligence and real- time streaming analytics. Looking at an example, a customer could be a heavy Facebook user who drops off usage around day 24 of their billing cycle every month. This is probably due to concerns about overage charges and not using up their quota. So the opportunity is there for the operator to send a personalized offer to sell a 500MB Facebook only pass valid for seven days for say, US$5, when the customer accesses Facebook on day 23 of the billing cycle. Or if an operator sees that someone spends a lot of time streaming music and has a high churn propensity score, why not offer then one month free Spotify Premium (assuming the operator has a partnership with Spotify), the next time they start listening to a streaming music service.

3. Service development and delivery

As operators look to increase relevance with customers through more personalized customer engagement they’ll need to have a much wider range of offers that reflect the needs of an increasingly segmented customer base. Customers are demanding more services and in faster time. Add in the pressure of faster time to market and it can be seen that the legacy approach to product and service development and delivery of protracted product development timeframes will not work.

Operators want to offer more value-based offers, tailored to suit various customer needs and capture maximum revenue from different segments. This means an increasing amount of offers that often need to be defined and launched in shorter timescales. In order to do this operators are increasingly looking towards a centralized offer catalog.

Offers are built in the offer catalog and contain the real-time triggers to activate an offer being presented to a customer. In order to enable fast time to market, offers need to be configured easily, allowing nontechnical teams to be involved. New offers, as well as promotions, or loyalty rewards should be quickly and easily activated, tested, edited or removed. Once added to the offer catalogue, offers should be instantly available to appropriate subscribers. A centralized offer catalog enables operators to greatly simplify the offer development process and significantly save time. As a result, campaigns and bundles can be rolled out much faster to keep ahead of the competition and engage with customers through the provision of relevant and personalized offers.

By bringing customers more relevant choices with context-sensitive offers sent directly to their devices in real-time, operators can substantially increase sales conversion rates and avoid the risk of confusing customers with too many offers and options. The context can relate to profile, usage, time, location or network data.

4. Monetization
As operators develop more offers for an increasingly segmented customer base the ability to be able to quickly apply pricing and charging rules to a wide range of new offers is fundamental. There have been many well documented cases of operators giving services away ‘for free’ dressed up as marketing offers, while the reason for this largesse was that the billing system couldn’t charge for this new service. Operators cannot be restrained by failures in billing systems when rolling out new products, services and offers.

• Fast time to market—e.g. rules based engines that enable pricing and charging rules to be quickly developed by the operator

• Flexibility required to quickly develop sophisticated data charging models. These include charging models incorporating third party content and applications, sponsored data with partners (e.g. free TV application usage sponsored by, say, HBO, advertisers, venues, etc.), data sharing and more.
• Ability to be used across all services, whether pre-paid or post-paid, voice or data A single profile for each customer; this enables them to rapidly define and roll out targeted offers and promotions.
Summary
Operators have an opportunity to develop deeper relationships with their customers through smarter engagement and increase the relevance of the operator to the customer. This can drive trust, loyalty, upsell opportunities and profitability. However, in order to do this operators need to provide engagement that is personalized, timely and relevant—otherwise customers will not re-act to what they see as generic and irrelevant marketing communications.

Having real-time visibility on a customer’s behavior, provides real-time business intelligence and operators can use this intelligence as a trigger to drive a personalized engagement— everything from a CRM message to a specific upsell of a new offer. (including those from content and other service provider partners). The systems to develop, launch and monetize these new offers need to be part of an engagement solution. As operators roll out many new multi-play offers, they will need systems in place to enable rapid product development, launch and monetization. The advances in network functions virtualization are enabling these systems to be quickly installed with reduced opex and capex, thus providing operators with a more agile operating environment and processes.